Men's Tennis Begins New Era with Kei Nishikori - Marin Cilic Final at 2014 US Open - UBITENNIS
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Men's Tennis Begins New Era with Kei Nishikori – Marin Cilic Final at 2014 US Open

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TENNIS US OPEN – Up at the Stadium, they said farewell to Derek Jeter on Sunday, gave the Yankee shortstop of 20 years his special day. 24 hours earlier and a few miles away, we said goodbye to an era in tennis. So long to a Grand Slam men’s final which had Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray. So long to what we knew. So long to what we expected. Art Spander for bleacherreport.com

 

US Open: All the interviews, results, draws and OoP

Up at the Stadium, they said farewell to Derek Jeter on Sunday, gave the Yankee shortstop of 20 years his special day, a couple of weeks before retirement. Twenty-four hours earlier and a few miles away, across the East River, we said goodbye to an era in tennis.

So long to a Grand Slam men’s final which had Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray. So long to what we knew. So long to what we expected.

On Monday, Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic meet for the U.S. Open Men’s Singles Championship. It’s the first time in 38 majors without one of the Big Four. It will not be the last time.

A new shortstop for the Yankees. New stars in tennis. And golf. The Tiger Woods era is done, so they say. The Rory McIlroy era has begun.

Nothing is forever. No one is forever. Especially in sports where age and injury alter the landscape all too quickly. Change, always change.

Djokovic isn’t going away, for certain. But the mystique of his superiority has taken a jolt. The hard courts of Billie Jean King Center, as well of those at the Australian Open, are his best surface. Yet he was overwhelmed by the 24-year-old Nishikori.

The way Nadal was beaten in the fourth round at Wimbledon in July by 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios. That just before 23-year-old Grigor Dimitrov whipped defending champ Andy Murray.

We sensed then a shift was coming in the men’s game. Maybe not immediately, but it was there on the horizon.

Nadal, while only 28, has bad knees and a sore wrist. How long can he last? Federer, 33, won’t reach another Slam final. Murray is the same age as the 27-year-old Djokovic, but for him, each match seems a climb up a mountain.

Already this year there was a breakthrough when Stan Wawrinka won the Australian, defeating Nadal in the final. Rafa supposedly had back troubles, but that’s part of the issue isn’t it? The older you get the more ailments you incur.

With the classic exception of Federer, who throughout a history in which he’s won a record 17 Slams has never been injured, other than suffering some back pain.

So Wawrinka won in Australia and either Nishikori or the 25-year-old Cilic will take the Open. And it’s either the best thing that can happen to the sport or if you’re doing the telecasting, the worst.

A Yankee fan stays a Yankee fan, no matter who’s at shortstop. Or in right field. But, ah, tennis is, as is golf, a sport without team loyalty, a sport requiring familiarity.

Everyone knows Nadal and Federer. And Djokovic. But who will watch Nishikori against Cilic? The transition will be difficult. It also may be exciting.

Maybe there’s an American about to work his way toward the top.

Or maybe Nishikori, a man of two cultures, from Japan but trained and living in the United States, captures a few titles and the attention of the public and becomes the Ichiro Suzuki of tennis.

“He’s been around for the last couple of years,” a magnanimous Djokovic said of Nishikori. “He’s been making a lot of success. But playing finals of a Grand Slam and now fighting for a title is definitely something different.”

And something different is about to take over tennis, something new. Wham, wham, wham. Three aces by Cilic to begin the final set against Federer. Wham, wham, wham, the explosion throughout the sport.

“You saw everything,” affirmed Cilic’s coach, Goran Ivanisevic, a former Wimbledon champion. “When you give lessons of tennis to Roger Federer, it means you’re amazing. That’s too good.”

The Federer fans think that’s too bad. Their man is nearer to the end of his wonderful career than the beginning. It was 2001 when a little known Federer surprised six-time champion Pete Sampras at Wimbledon. Pete’s time was about to become Roger’s time.

Now Roger’s time is ebbing away. Who steps up? Who grabs the brass ring? Who gets his own logo, as Federer, the interlocking “RF,” on his hats? Nishikori? Cilic? Kyrgios? Dimitrov? Milos Raonic, the young Canadian. Or none of the above?

Federer in effect sneered at the thought, raised by a journalist, that the times are a changing.

“You create your stories,” was Federer’s response. “You said the same in Australia. Then we know what happened at the French Open final, Wimbledon final. But this is another chance for you guys (in the press). So you should write what you want.”

What we wrote is that the men’s game, to use a tennis term, is in a changeover. And Federer to his credit saw the benefit, even if it’s not to his advantage.

“It’s exciting for the game to have different faces from time to time,” Federer said. “It’s definitely refreshing to some extent.”

Unless you are one of the Big Four.

Article for bleacherreport.com

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Marton Fucsovics upsets Borna Coric to reach Rotterdam Final

The Hungarian is into his third ATP final after stunning the Croatian with a straight sets win.

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Marton Fucsovics is through to his third ATP final after beating Borna Coric 6-4, 6-1 in an hour and 25 minutes at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

 

The 29-year-old Hungarian broke Coric fives time and won 75% of his first service points at the Ahoy Arena to become only the second qualifier in history to reach the title match. The first was France’s Nicolas Esdcude back in 2001. It is also the first time Fucsovics has beaten Coric on the Tour following on his forty attempt.

” I come here every year, it’s not my favourite surface but I can say after this week I love it, I love the atmosphere, I love the people here,” the world No.59 said during his press conference.
It’s a very famous tournament, it has a long history and I haven’t seen any Hungarians on the winners list but hopefully I can do that tomorrow.”

Coric, who is ranked 33 places higher, didn’t get off to a good start and Fucsovics made sure to take advantage of it in the first game of the opening set by earning three early breakpoints. He broke by winning an intense rally and finishing the point with a sensational forehand winner down the line that was almost picture perfect. There was a small lapse in his game at 3-2 when he served an off game and the Croat would break to put the set back on serve.

That’s when the world number 59 went into full overload earning two more breakpoints the following game after playing a solid point and finishing with a powerful smash at the net. He would break once more as the world number 26 would send a ball long to regain a 4-3 lead. The underdog would save two breakpoints from the Zagreb native who was starting to find his game playing some outstanding tennis and eventually serve out the first set.

The second set is where the Hungarian dominated and went for the kill. Eager to book his spot in the final against Andrey Rublev on Sunday afternoon. At 1-1 he would earn another breakpoint winning a long intense rally with a stunning forehand winner.

He would break the following point as Coric hit another unforced error and was visibly frustrated as he belted out in Croatian. After holding serve to consolidate the break Fucsovics smelled blood and once again unforced errors were creeping into the Croats game and he would break once again to take a commanding 4-1 lead.

Once again after having no issues holding serve the world number 26 was serving to stay in the match but the day belonged to the Fucsovics as he finished the match in style overpowering his opponent to break for a third time to take set and the match.

When asked what it is going to take to end up victorious on Sunday against one of the best players in the world, the Hungarian hopes he will be cheered on by his country.

” It’s going to be a tough match, I just want to enjoy it, I want to play my best tennis, I hope the people from Hungary will be supporting me “

Fucsovics beat Rublev in a Davis Cup World Group Playoff while Rublev got his revenge three years later at Roland Garros. Although both those meetings were on a outdoor clay court and this will be their first meeting on indoor hard.

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Losing Just As Important As Winning For Jannik Sinner And His 20-Year Goal

The 19-year-old rising star speaks out about his success in the sport at a young age and how he is coping with the pressure.

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The sudden surge in fame is something that has done little to deter Jannik Sinner who has already outlined a goal to play in the sport for another 20 years.

 

At the age of 19 the Italian is the youngest player currently ranked in the world’s top 100 on the ATP Tour. Despite his young age Sinner has already impressed many with a series of milestones. During his breakout season last year he became the first player to reach the quarter-finals of the French Open on their debut since Rafael Nadal in 2005. A couple months later he won his maiden title at the Sofia Open to become the youngest to do so on the ATP Tour since Kei Nishikori at the 2008 Delray Beach Open.

To put into context Sinner’s rapid rise in the sport, he didn’t crack the top 100 until October 2019. Amid the success comes high expectation from those cheering him on. In his home country of Italy many are hoping that he will be the player to end the drought in men’s Grand Slam winners. The last was Adriano Panatta at the 1976 French Open.

Although it hasn’t entirely been plain-sailing for Sinner who has lost in the first round of his two most recent tournaments. The toughest for him was at the Australian Open which he lost in five sets to Denis Shapovalov.

“I’m 19 years old, it’s a long road and the biggest pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself. Before you can win these big tournaments, you have to lose big games,” Sinner said during an interview with L’Equipe.
“It hurts, but it makes you grow. Like my defeat against Shapovalov in the first round of the Australian Open. I had a hard time taking it, I talked a lot with my team. Our job is to win but, I’ll say it again, it’s also important to lose when you’re young.”

Coached on the Tour by Riccardo Piatti, Sinner sees his development on the Tour as a work in progress as he looks to the positive side of losing matches. Explaining that he learns more about his tennis when losing than winning sometimes.

“My trajectory has been fast, but I’m looking ahead. The next three years are crucial for me. I have to work, lose matches, understand why I lost and play as many matches as possible to improve. When I have 200 ATP matches on the scoreboard, I will start to get to know myself better,” he said.

Sinner was born on Roger Federer’s 20th birthday in 2001. Like the Swiss Maestro he hopes to have a long career on the Tour as he sets sights on playing until his late thirties. Something that has become more of a regular occurrence in recent years.

“I need two or three years to better understand things on and off the court. I want to stay relaxed, because my goal is to play for another 20 years. Yes, I turned pro at 18, so I want to play until I’m 38!”

Although it is another member of the Big Three who has given him one of the most memorable moments of his young career so far.

“The match against Nadal at Roland Garros last year was very important for me. And my training with him before the Melbourne Open was even more important than playing in Melbourne,” he said.
“ At 19 years old, training for a fortnight with a player who won 20 Grand Slams was the best thing that could have happened to me. Not only for my career, but also as a life experience. I will never forget it.”

Sinner will return to action next week at the Open 13 in France where he is the fifth seed. In the first round he will play Grégoire Barrère.

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Matteo Berrettini Opens Up On Struggles Of Being A Top 10 Player

The world No.10 sheds light on how his rise in the sport has affected him both on and off the court.

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Being ranked among the best in the world is one of the ultimate goals for a tennis player but achieving such an accolade also has its drawbacks that few speak about.

 

Matteo Berrettini is Italy’s highest ranked player on the ATP Tour and has been continuously ranked in the world’s top 10 since his debut in October 2019. With a trio of Tour titles under his name the 24-year-old made headlines almost two years ago with his run to the semi-finals of the US Open in what remains his best Grand Slam performance to date. Since then he has not gone beyond the fourth round of a major.

Reflecting on his rise in the sport, Berrettini admits for the first time he has found it hard handling the pressure and expectation placed upon him after becoming a member of the top 10. Writing for Eurosport’s Players’ Voice, he says his rise in the sport has also had an impact on his personal life as well.

“I did not find it easy getting used to the sudden pressures of climbing the rankings so quickly. For me, I was tiptoeing, but suddenly felt like everyone was waiting for me to go faster. It is as if you have chosen a path, but that path suddenly becomes another. Imagine it this way: you are walking along a side road at your own pace, but it suddenly merges into a highway and everything travels so fast; you have to adapt immediately or otherwise you will be overtaken,” Berrettini wrote.
“When you get near the top, there is so much more you have to deal with, and not just tennis, but personal things too. Before, my life seemed much simpler; I go to the court, I play tennis, I think about winning. Today, there are so many more things to think about: managing expectations, those of others as well as my own, but also maintaining my relationships.”

This season Berrettini has experienced an encouraging start with wins over Dominic Thiem, Gael Monfils and Roberto Bautista Agut at the ATP Cup. He also reached the quarter-finals of the Antalya Open and the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Elaborating further on his experience on the Tour, he admits that the mental side of the game has become more of a challenge for him in recent months. Berrettini has also endured his fair share of injury setbacks over the past month with the most recent being an abdominal strain he suffered during the Australian Open.

“The higher you go, the more complicated things get,” he said. “Because in addition to all of your worries about the technical and physical aspects of your game, which are fundamental, you have to also train the ‘boss’, as they say in Rome, the head.”

Regardless of the experiences, his dreams for the future remain the same. Winning the Italian Open, who was last won by a home player in 1976, as well as Grand Slam glory.

“Looking ahead on the court, I look forward to hopefully bringing happiness to fans, to feel that adrenaline once more of being able to excite and inspire people of all ages. With that extra incentive, I hope my results will speak for themselves,” Berrettini concluded.

Berrettini is the first Italian man in history to have won a match at the season-ending ATP Finals after defeating Dominic Thiem back in 2019.

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